LONDON – While British school inspection authority Ofsted holds respect for minorities high on its agenda, it has set a meeting for independent London schools – including Jewish schools – on Rosh Hashana.
Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, has the authority to insist on changes in schools if common standards and regulations aren’t met, and in extreme cases can recommend the closure of schools. It has the power to descend on a school without notice, or minimal notice, to ensure the establishment is up to scratch. High on its agenda is ensuring schools teach pupils respect for minorities and other religions, an issue that has caused occasional friction with strictly Orthodox educational establishments that prefer a limited focus on non-Jewish topics.
The Rosh Hashana meeting, which is meant to brief schools on a new inspection framework, has angered and bewildered Jewish educational heads. A similar meeting in Salford, in the Manchester area, is scheduled to be held on the first day of Hol Hamoed Succot.
Rabbi Avroham Pinter, the principal of Yesodey Hatorah School in London’s Stamford Hill neighborhood, told The Jerusalem Post that Ofsted had shown “a blatant disregard for our faith, which calls into question its suitability for inspecting and reporting on faith schools.”